Rutgers DT Darius Hamilton Gives An Update On His Return and Health Goals
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – After missing every game last season due to a lower body (knee) injury except for a few snaps against Penn State, Rutgers football defensive tackle Darius Hamilton is on the mend. Slowly getting back into the grind and football shape, Hamilton was a limited participant in spring practice.
The redshirt senior partook in some team drills, practiced, and ran, but wore a green non-contact jersey which indicated an injury. But, the former No. 1 recruit in New Jersey in 2012 is getting close to 100 percent, and despite spending time in the corner of the Indoor Practice Bubble on an exercise bike, Hamilton said he did the majority of work in the spring.
“I would say I did the majority,” Hamilton told the media after the Scarlet-White spring game on April 23. “Definitely above 80 (percent). I had a lot of fun out there.”
He continued: “I think the spring was successful. I think we took some good steps forward. Obviously not where I want to be at, but I do think by training camp I’ll be there.”
Hamilton sat the spring game out, but is optimistic about possibly being a full-go in training camp over the summer, or at least by the start the 2016 season.
“I think it was pretty precautionary,” he said when asked why didn’t play in the intrasquad scrimmage. “If you would have told me in January that I’ll be out here in the spring tackling, doing live periods and stuff like that, I wouldn’t have believed you. So, just to see where I’m at and exactly where I have to get to – I’m really not that far – and I’m really excited about getting there.”
With a new head coach (Chris Ash), his staff, and defensive schemes to learn, there has been an adjustment. Ash said he is pleased with the progress of his defensive line, but there are question marks at linebacker – where all three starters from a year ago need to be replaced – and depth in the secondary.
In the spring game, the quarterbacks were the main focus, but the defense on both sides combined for six sacks, two forced fumbles, and 10 pass breakups.
“I think we’re getting better,” Hamilton said. “I think at this point that’s all you can ask far is that we take the right steps forward every day, so I definitely think we’re on the right track. It’s going to be a process and like coach Ash touched on we’re not where we need to be yet, but we’re definitely on our way there.”
New strength and conditioning coach Kenny Parker, who came over from Ohio State with Ash, has bulked up the players in addition to adding intensity and competition to everything they do.
In the 2014 Quick Lane Bowl, Hamilton weighed about 260 pounds. Now, “the Hammer” is up to 283 pounds, and hopes to get to about 290-295 for the season. A superb technician, the added weight and strength will help the 6-foot-3 former Don Bosco Prep product be even more dominant and more prepared for the rigors of the Big Ten Conference.
“Just from a strength and conditioning standpoint, still got a long ways to go,” Hamilton said. “(I) definitely (want) be in better shape when I come back, especially against this up-pace offense. But just basically (from) a strength and conditioning level, man, I got a ways to go. But man, I’m really excited about the progress I made, like I’ve said and I’m really looking forward to training camp.”
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